Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, today Your holy people are under attack. We’re surrounded by those who would belittle the morality that You died for. Repentance is mocked as silly and outdated. Sin is called: an alternative lifestyle. The whole idea of Your love for us has been misconstrued to mean that You don’t care if we play with evil. Lord, empower us to stand up and be counted. And out of this trial make us stronger and more able to actively confess You alone as the way, the truth, and the life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO SAVES US FROM SIN!
TEXT: Jeremiah 23: 1-6
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Here’s a true story. A few years ago a fine, veteran pastor in our circles sought out advice from the synod leadership. He was torn in his life and thinking of resigning his ministry. The reason for this was his daughter. As a single teenager she had gotten pregnant. That pastor wept for his daughter. He forgave her when she confessed her breaking of the 6th commandment. But, he still contemplated resigning because he felt that he hadn’t lived up to the guidelines that God laid down in the Bible for the public ministry.—Specifically I Tim. 3:4: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.”
Our church leadership told him: “Well, it’s up to you, but we don’t think you need to resign. Your daughter sinned. All of us have children that sin. And the very fact that you’re dealing with her anguish in a loving way is proof that you belong in your holy office.”
Contrast that sense of moral uprightness and faithfulness to but one general passage from the Bible to what we have seen this past week among the Episcopalians and even among some liberal Roman Catholic clergy. New Hampshire Episcopalians now have a practicing homosexual bishop. He doesn’t view his “gayness” as a sin. He ignores the clear passages of the Bible which speak out against such behavior as St. Paul outlines in Romans chapter one and elsewhere. In fact, that Rev. Gene Robinson says this about his homosexual relationship: “In his (partners) unfailing and unquestioning love of me, I experience just a little bit of the kind of never-ending, never-failing love that God has for me.” So, his gay partner is “God-like!?” Folks, if that isn’t blasphemy, nothing is!
About 30 years ago, a poll was taken as to what clergy within denominations actually believe. I have the statistics in my one of my files. In overwhelming numbers those “pastors” routinely denied the truth of the Bible, the reality of the Christ’s miracles, His virgin birth, and His resurrection. Is it any wonder to us that those same folks have now redefined sin? When sin is redefined as an alternative lifestyle, there is no need for a Savior. There is no need for repentance or transformation. It is the ultimate idolatry where humans remake “god” in their own image and ultimately worship themselves.
You and I live in the world, but we are not to be of the world. And that means that:
IT’S TIME TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
In Ezekiel 33, the Lord says that if the watchmen, that is, the pastors of His flock won’t sound the alarm when the devil works his mischief, the blood of the people will be required of them on judgement day. Well, this is your alarm. So, let’s look at our text.
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture,’ says the Lord. ‘Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done.”
Is that clear? Well, it is to me. Jeremiah wrote those words because God’s people were embracing idolatry in increasing numbers. Like many today they chanted: “God is love.” So, if God loves us, why worry about sin? Why be concerned with depravity? Why repent?
The problem then and now is that people don’t want to repent. We don’t like to admit our sins and our guilt before God. So, just redefine sin—that’s the modern solution. America has correctly defined physical abuse of a 2 year old as a great evil. However, back up 2 1/2 years of that child’s life and they can be killed via abortion without any social penalty. Does that make any sense? Today we’re told that gay and lesbian couples can raise children just as successfully as heterosexual couples, that love is love. But, what kind of love are they talking about? I learned in psych 101 class that children need both a mom and a dad emotionally to grow into well-rounded people. Let’s face it, no matter how you cut it, gay sex is unnatural. Additionally, the Bible basically teaches that men and women both bring unique gifts to the table of marriage. Thus the completeness of marriage is only found when traditional marriage is upheld.
We’re undergoing persecution by the media. Traditional Christianity (is there any other kind?) is being attacked as homophobic, out-dated, and bigoted. The world is just waiting for us all to die and then our voice in the wilderness will go away and their consciences won’t bother them any more. Well, Jeremiah faced these same pressures, and God’s faithful flock endured. St. Paul faced these same pressures and we’re here 2000 years later. By trials we are forced to either stand up for Jesus or to deny Him. And by His grace, when we do stand up to be counted—He’ll bless our labors!
Listen to what God promises. “I myself will gather a remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the Lord. ‘The days are coming when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah (the Church) will be saved and Israel (God’s faithful people) will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.”
We cannot save ourselves. But we don’t have to. God has done that already in Christ. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who died to save His sheep. Jesus is that righteous Branch under which we find shade and security. Jesus is our King Who gives us Godly truth to confess and through which immorality and sin are condemned. It is said that God hates sin but loves the sinner. Well, truth be told, God hates both sin and the sinner. That’s why He had to die to save us from sin and to transform the sinner, us, into a saint through the power of His love.
The big media issue this week was homosexuality in the organized church. The bigger issue was: Who’s Church is it, God’s or man’s? And the biggest issue was: Does the Bible lie, or not? And if it does lie on this issue of homosexuality, why believe any of it, including the fact that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep?
It’s time to stand up and be counted. It’s time to take on false teaching whenever and wherever found. It’s time to confess Christ and all that He teaches and stands for as Jesus says: “Whoever will confess me before men, him will I confess before My Father in heaven, but whoever will deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father in heaven.” Amen